AT RANDOM: MIDDLEMEN

Robin Brownlee
July 03 2014 01:47PM

I don't see the debate about how the Edmonton Oilers should fill the holes they have on their roster at centre in terms of black and white when it comes to how or if Leon Draisaitl fits into the equation next season. I find myself pulled between preference and practicality.

Call it sitting on the fence if you like, but as we sit here during the first week of July, I don't think there's a hard and fast answer as to whether Draisaitl should be in the mix when the puck drops on 2014-15. I weighed in on the issue in my last item here.

In terms of preference, there's a reasonable case to be made Draisaitl should be returned to Prince Albert of the WHL next season, no matter what. Don't rush the kid. Don't burn a year of his entry level contract. Jason Strudwick of TSN 1260, for example, made the case on his show and on Twitter Wednesday. David Staples of The Cult of Hockey says the same.

I get where they're coming from. I just can't embrace the "no matter what" part of the argument on a day that Draisaitl took his first twirl on the ice as a member of the Oilers at a development camp in Jasper. I'm in the wait-and-see camp.

LET IT PLAY OUT

93-RNH-9

I can't sit here today and tell you with a straight face Draisaitl is ready to play in the NHL next season. Likewise, I can't say for certain he won't be ready when the puck drops. I don't know. Do you?

I don't think Draisaitl should be handed a roster spot because he's a third overall pick. I don't care about the optics. I don't think he should make the team by default because after first-liner Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and utility man Boyd Gordon, the Oilers are woefully thin down the middle.

As I wrote June 28, even if Draisaitl gives strong indications he's not in over his head, I don't want to see him force-fed into a second-line role. At the very least, GM Craig MacTavish has to find a proven NHL centre – easier said than done – who can provide a buffer and split the ice that's up for grabs time between RNH and Gordon.

Whether Draisaitl sticks in Edmonton or is returned to Prince Albert, the bottom line for me is that the Oilers will be making a mistake if they don't at least let him compete for a job before making a decision based on merit. Let this play out.

WHILE I'M AT IT

Berglund

  • Jonathan Willis took a thorough look at centre Patrik Berglund of the St. Louis Blues as a possible target for the Oilers recently and I concur with his take. I like Berglund and I think he slots in behind RNH as a second/third-line option. The question, as always, is the ask.
  • I got plenty of reaction on Twitter Wednesday when I said I'd be willing to trade anybody not named Taylor Hall, RNH, Jordan Eberle, David Perron, Ben Scrivens, or Justin Schultz for Berglund. A lot of it was along the lines of "You'd trade Nail Yakupov?" Yes, yes I would. I recognize there's an element of risk, but I'm not as sold on Yakupov as many fans are. Not exactly trading him for a bag of pucks here.
  • A lot of people think Mark Fayne might be a pleasant surprise as an addition to Edmonton's blue line. Numbers like him, too. Haven't seen him enough to have a feel for him. As a low-cost depth player, I like the addition of Keith Aulie.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 geno
July 03 2014, 01:49PM
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Berglund's a 3rd line centre...so uh ya....you're selling low on your 20 year old 1st overall pick. We know how you feel on Yak. You thought trading him for Clarkson was a good idea in 2013. Not sure if you're anti-Russian or just anti-logic

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#2 shaner
July 03 2014, 01:51PM
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I agree with the take of getting Backlund. What do you think of trying to sign Legwand as a centre option?

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#3 Sorensenator
July 03 2014, 02:02PM
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geno wrote:

Berglund's a 3rd line centre...so uh ya....you're selling low on your 20 year old 1st overall pick. We know how you feel on Yak. You thought trading him for Clarkson was a good idea in 2013. Not sure if you're anti-Russian or just anti-logic

What are you talking about? Clarkson was a UFA last year, there was no trading anything for him.

I have been trying to hammer this into people for quite some time, Yakupov, as skilled as he may be, and all the potential he possesses is still adding the same dimension to the team they already have..more or less, even if he turns it around.

We need a different make up in our top 9. Yes we added Pouliot and Purcell however those type of players are not seen down the middle in Edmonton. Yakupov could fetch that type of centre man in Patrick Berglund.

Bring in sometime you don't have, and move out something you have plenty of..... DUH?

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#4 Gordie Wayne
July 03 2014, 02:06PM
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I like what MacT has done so far...if I am him, this is what I do next:

1. Sign 6'2 205 lbs. former 8th overall pick Peter Mueller for cheap short term contract (1.5 to 2 million per for 1 to 2 years). The other decent C available in UFA just don't do it for me (Ott was -38 last year, Roy is small although is a point producer, and Legwand likely wants too much term and money).

2. Sign one of Winnik or David Moss as depth winger for 2.5 to 3 million (we need penalty killers).

3. If MacT is set on trading Petry, then it needs to be for an upgrade at D. Say Petry + prospect like Musil + a 2nd/3rd rd pick for a decent top pairing dman for the team (like Byfgliuen or Coburn or ????)

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#5 Bullets Hockey
July 03 2014, 02:07PM
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I think Brock Nelson from NYI should be considered.....he's a big body that can play center or wing. And the asking price shouldn't be too much.

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#6 Robin Brownlee
July 03 2014, 02:08PM
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geno wrote:

Berglund's a 3rd line centre...so uh ya....you're selling low on your 20 year old 1st overall pick. We know how you feel on Yak. You thought trading him for Clarkson was a good idea in 2013. Not sure if you're anti-Russian or just anti-logic

Like I said, there's risk in moving a player as young as Yakupov, but I see enough I don't like in his game that I'd be willing to make the move -- as I said I would for Clarkson (in the scenario Gregor put forth) before the horrid season he just had.

I think Berglund is capable of taking on more minutes here. Perhaps not as a full-blown 2nd line centre right away, but in the 2/3 role I mentioned. By the way, Berglund has averaged more minutes as the third-line centre you peg him as than Yakupov has in his roles here.

Feel free to disagree with the premise, but spare me the anti-Russian/anti-logic bit.

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#7 jonny94
July 03 2014, 02:08PM
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I would not trade Yakupov for Berglund. A defensive prospect and maybe a draft pick is the most I'd give up. We need a stop-gap for Draisaitl we don't need to make a statement trading Yakupov, that seems counter productive for Berglund.

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#8 Sorensenator
July 03 2014, 02:16PM
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Sign David Legwand then, he produces a little more offensively and the only thing you are giving up is term and money, not Yakupov.

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#9 yaaaaaaa
July 03 2014, 02:16PM
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trade for vinny lecavalier. shouldn't be too hard. can teach the kids something. former cup winner. Nuge - Lecavalier - Draisaitl - Gordon isn't a bad centre line up

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#10 jonrmcleod
July 03 2014, 02:16PM
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Gordie Wayne wrote:

I like what MacT has done so far...if I am him, this is what I do next:

1. Sign 6'2 205 lbs. former 8th overall pick Peter Mueller for cheap short term contract (1.5 to 2 million per for 1 to 2 years). The other decent C available in UFA just don't do it for me (Ott was -38 last year, Roy is small although is a point producer, and Legwand likely wants too much term and money).

2. Sign one of Winnik or David Moss as depth winger for 2.5 to 3 million (we need penalty killers).

3. If MacT is set on trading Petry, then it needs to be for an upgrade at D. Say Petry + prospect like Musil + a 2nd/3rd rd pick for a decent top pairing dman for the team (like Byfgliuen or Coburn or ????)

You do realize there's a salary cap, right?

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#11 Clubhouse
July 03 2014, 02:17PM
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Totally agree, Drasaitl needs to earn playing on this team.

Would love to see us getting a 2C & 3C (Legwand plus might be too much cash).

IF Drasaitl makes the team no harm in starting on the wing either Mckinnon looked pretty good there this year.

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#12 Nomad787
July 03 2014, 02:18PM
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I agree about Leon. But man am I glad your not the GM. I get your not that high on yak but seriously how would that deal make any sense. Berglund will never be more than what he is now, yak is 20 and has played a year and a half on a very bad team.

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#13 Bullets Hockey
July 03 2014, 02:19PM
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yaaaaaaa wrote:

trade for vinny lecavalier. shouldn't be too hard. can teach the kids something. former cup winner. Nuge - Lecavalier - Draisaitl - Gordon isn't a bad centre line up

I like Vinny but I can't see him waiving his NTC to come to the Oilers.

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#14 GriffCity
July 03 2014, 02:20PM
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IF we traded Yak for Berglund, one of two things would almost certainly happen. Either Yak goes to STL and explodes for 30-40 goals and everyone goes back to believing he is a legit #1 overall OR Berglund comes to EDM and craps the bed.

Its not worth the risk at this point to move Yak until he has another terrible season and we trade him for a puck bag. Right?

Its actually a bad situation for the Oilers, and given their track record of the majority of trades over the last handful of years, one would think that either way the Oilers are going to end up getting screwed in the ear.

I would see if they can throw an offer sheet to Steve Ott for 1 year at about 1.8 - 2.5 mil and see if it has traction. Not the best offensive guy but like Hendricks, Ott brings an edge every night and is hard to play against. That is after all exactly what we said needed to be improved upon to compete in the West is it not?

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#15 Gordie Wayne
July 03 2014, 02:21PM
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jonrmcleod wrote:

You do realize there's a salary cap, right?

Let's see...

1. Mueller at 1.75 million per year

2. Winnik for 3.0 million per year

3. Trade Petry for Coburn (4.5 million per year)

Oilers at 66.5 million (2.5 million under cap) - enough to sign Schultz to a short bridge at 2 years at 5 million or less.

Also, that is with 3 million in bonuses that can be rolled to next year if they want more room.

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#16 Glory Days
July 03 2014, 02:22PM
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I agree with you RB. I don't like what I see in Yaks game and he IS redundant on our team even if I did like what I see. I don't understand why so many fans like Yak so much. I'd take a guy like Arcobello, or Bergland, over Yakalov any day and twice on Sunday.

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#17 BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull
July 03 2014, 02:22PM
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If MacT can't bring in a center he has failed as a GM. Ever since he was hired we've been constantly begging the Oilers to bring in a NHL centerman. The biggest need on the team for two years,two free agency periods and nothing to show. If RNH and Gordon get hurt we are playing meaningless hockey before christmas again.

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#18 HallFever
July 03 2014, 02:26PM
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You just can't trade Yak now. The pain we went through to get him at number 1 and to trade him now would be a big mistake. You need to give him at least 2 more years to know if he is the real deal. It won't take Yak to get Berglund. The Blues need to shed salary. Give Yak a Center like Berglund to play with and you will see a big improvement with that alone.

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#19 Ed in Edmonton
July 03 2014, 02:27PM
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Berglund may have been a 3rd line center in St. Loo, but would fit as No2 with the Oil and that's what makes him attractive.

If in a couple of years RNH and LD progress to fully competent 1 & 2 centers, Berglund goes back No 3 and all is good in the universe.

It might be time for a "bold move".

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#20 HallFever
July 03 2014, 02:35PM
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Wouldn't Gernat or Musil + a 3rd round pick get it done for Berglund? I would also consider Klefbom if needed.

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#21 DieHard
July 03 2014, 02:37PM
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Yak for Berglund is the dumbest trade you've suggested. True, Yak has issues but you can do better than Berglund. I'd give 2015 2nd for him though.

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#22 Fresh Mess
July 03 2014, 02:37PM
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Excellent take.

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#23 Spoils
July 03 2014, 02:38PM
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Depth in center is not optional in the NHL. We DO NOT have it.

Also our pick next year shouldn't be on D since they take too long to develop and this team has potential to come online sooner.

So - how do we use assets to get a solid D (can wait a bit) AND depth at Center (which we need now).

we will have to make some bold moves.

e.g. Yak + something for a true #1D prospect e.g. Perron + something for a #2/#3C

Perron has high value right now. Yak is a risk because his value may have a lot further to fall if he doesn't pan out, than it does to go up.

The Avs traded all three of their #1 overalls before winning the cup.

Obviously you offer less if you can (I like the comments about 3rd rd picks etc. for Berglund, but ultimately this is about having the right pieces.

BOLD MOVES.

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#24 Jayz
July 03 2014, 02:38PM
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Thank god your not the gm browny. You don't move a player after a down year...especially if the said player is 20 and was the first overall pick!! I agree Bergland is a good target but not at that cost. I think a dman going back the other way is more likely with all the recent additions and not much in the way of breathing room in cap space.

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#25 99
July 03 2014, 02:40PM
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We aren't going to make the playoffs with this roster this year or next. I see us finishing 10th at best. The west is too strong. So let the prospect pool develop because it will pay sweet dividends when they do get to the big show.

Marincin and Klefbom should play top pairing minutes in the AHL this year. Graduate them next year. I think Nurse should at the very least play a full AHL season before he makes a jump into the NHL. So that means he would debut 2016-17 season. Each of these d-man should get adequate PP, PK, and EV time to develop into a 1st pairing d-man. Although each of them were considered top 4 guys, proper development can do wonders. I think we can have 3 legit top pairing d-man with these 3 its just a matter of giving them time to learn the pro game at their own pace. Its amazing what confidence can do for a kid.

Same should go for Leon. Although he has the size, he should not make his debut into the NHL till 2016-17 as well. He went third overall for a reason in what was considered a weak draft in comparison to prior years. The Oil organization really need to show that they've learnt from the Gagner experiment. Let him play Junior this year. Plug him in as a 1C in the AHL the following year and then bring him up.

If we take the slow and steady route of development, Nurse and Leon will be ready to make big contribution when they do enter the league as opposed to struggling the first couple years.

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#26 DieHard
July 03 2014, 02:40PM
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HallFever wrote:

Wouldn't Gernat or Musil + a 3rd round pick get it done for Berglund? I would also consider Klefbom if needed.

Everybody quit trading Klefbom. Damn-it.

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#27 Woogie63
July 03 2014, 02:43PM
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I think I would rather have

1C RNH 2/3C Gagner 3/2C Horcoff 4C Gordon

than

1C RNH 2C ???? 3C Drasaitl 4C Gordon

for 2014/15. I don't care about the cap and term ... I want want to watch some winning hockey.

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#28 Oliveoiler
July 03 2014, 02:44PM
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Gordie Wayne wrote:

I like what MacT has done so far...if I am him, this is what I do next:

1. Sign 6'2 205 lbs. former 8th overall pick Peter Mueller for cheap short term contract (1.5 to 2 million per for 1 to 2 years). The other decent C available in UFA just don't do it for me (Ott was -38 last year, Roy is small although is a point producer, and Legwand likely wants too much term and money).

2. Sign one of Winnik or David Moss as depth winger for 2.5 to 3 million (we need penalty killers).

3. If MacT is set on trading Petry, then it needs to be for an upgrade at D. Say Petry + prospect like Musil + a 2nd/3rd rd pick for a decent top pairing dman for the team (like Byfgliuen or Coburn or ????)

Petry, prospect and pick for a bona fide #1 defense man, get Mueller or Legwand for a C and let's see what happens - surely to God it can't be worse than last season's implosion. Well done MacT, you sure are making changes instead of dithering like your predecessor.

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#29 Chunkylover69@google.ca
July 03 2014, 02:44PM
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Berglund for yak makes us a better team right now and I get that. But Berglund isn't enough to drag us deep into the playoffs so to me its a waste of a blue chip talent. If we are going to give up a player with the huge upside potential that yak possess it must fetch us more. Give him time to get the stink off of last years performance and Yakupov will be coveted by every GM in the league.

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#30 madjam
July 03 2014, 02:51PM
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Not sure how one can assume Draisaitl gets in as a default position , when Arco and Landers are that to begin with .

Putting things straight : Yak played poorly generally on a bad team , and was an integral part of the problems from last year . I hope his play improves markedly from last season .

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#31 Scrivy
July 03 2014, 02:53PM
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You're losing your touch Brownlee.

You'd trade Yak for Berglund? A soon top line winger for a 3C? Can I get that in writing so I can remind you of it 1.5 years from now?

I would not even trade Petry for Berglund.

If only there was a way to rate the relative value of players......back to JWillis' articles...

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#32 Fresh Mess
July 03 2014, 02:53PM
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geno wrote:

Berglund's a 3rd line centre...so uh ya....you're selling low on your 20 year old 1st overall pick. We know how you feel on Yak. You thought trading him for Clarkson was a good idea in 2013. Not sure if you're anti-Russian or just anti-logic

Exactly, Berglund's a 3rd line big young NHL centre. Yakupov is a minor leaguer.

Sooo, let's see. What to call me today? Xenophobe? Ageist? I'm sure you'll think of something.

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#33 pelhem grenville
July 03 2014, 02:57PM
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Yak for Berglund OR Couturier and 2015 second...logical

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#34 thekid
July 03 2014, 02:57PM
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@Fresh Mess

I believe the word most people would use is "dullard".

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#35 The Swarm
July 03 2014, 02:58PM
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I am not sure if anyone bothered to check Arco's stats while he was playing in the top 6.

Gagner came back from injury in Game 14. Prior to that Arco had 10 points in 13 games. Extrapolated that puts him with 63 pts over and 82 game season, or in the top 20 for Centres in the league.

Yes it's a small sample size, but it would be more representative of what to expect from him in the 2C spot, rather than looking at his entire 41 games, where for the last 28 games he was not in the top 6 and playing guys like Joensu and Gazdic.

So 10 points in 13 games. Wins face-offs. Responsible in his own end.

He makes $600,000.

If this is not a money ball pick, I am not sure what is?

We all know why he was moved out of the top 6 and it certainly was not based on merit.

The guy can play and is an NHL'er. Full stop.

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#36 Oliveoiler
July 03 2014, 02:59PM
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madjam wrote:

Not sure how one can assume Draisaitl gets in as a default position , when Arco and Landers are that to begin with .

Putting things straight : Yak played poorly generally on a bad team , and was an integral part of the problems from last year . I hope his play improves markedly from last season .

Lander has had several seasons to prove himself an NHL player - he hasn't done so yet. Arcobello is a good player, tho undersized and another unproven player long term. To give them a chance when we are looking for results now seems pretty silly; keep them as spares for when they are needed for emergency call up. Give Yakabov the benefit of the doubt, but if half way through the season he still wants to play the game his way and on his own, then show him the door.

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#37 Fresh Mess
July 03 2014, 03:00PM
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thekid wrote:

I believe the word most people would use is "dullard".

OH..oh....Damn, you blindsided me with that.

That hurts.

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#38 Fresh Mess
July 03 2014, 03:03PM
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pelhem grenville wrote:

Yak for Berglund OR Couturier and 2015 second...logical

You'd be lucky to find an NHL GM who would give up a second rounder for Yakupov.

Berglund or Couturier plus a second for Yak is Oiler zealot fantasy.

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#39 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
July 03 2014, 03:10PM
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I've said it once, I'll say it again...

David Musil, Dillion Simpson and a 2nd rd 2015 pick for Berglund

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#40 Serious Gord
July 03 2014, 03:10PM
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"Don't burn a year of his entry level contract. "

This is the key to long term success. Make the prospect spend the year of development on their dime as it were rather than the oil's.

Signing Berglund at a premium seems fine to me - more bucks with less term and let him have a nmc - if he is a disappointment he will probably want to waive it anyway. Especially as it keeps draisaitl in the minors.

And even more so with the signing of aulie - blowing 800,000 on a Eakins project seems to be okay with mgmt.

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#41 Gordie Wayne
July 03 2014, 03:11PM
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Does anyone else think we need more penalty killers on this team? Our top 5 for in avg PK time per game last year for forwards: Hendricks, Gordon, Acton, Lander, Smyth

This isn't going to cut it...we need a guy like Winnik.

And before anyone says Berglund is the answer to this too, he was 6th highest forward on Blues in PK time per game.

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#42 Craig1981
July 03 2014, 03:11PM
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Bullets Hockey wrote:

I like Vinny but I can't see him waiving his NTC to come to the Oilers.

Plus Philly isn't in that bad of cap space. Sure they are 3M over, but they get 5M in cap relief as soon as they put Pronger on the LTIR.....Thats 2M under and they only have Gustafsson as an RFA to sign.

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#43 Serious Gord
July 03 2014, 03:13PM
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And as for fayne - it should be seen as a real test of the strength of the EDM pro scouting; if he fails it should be pinned on them.

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#44 Rama Lama
July 03 2014, 03:13PM
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Robin, what makes you think that Aulie is not another Marlies players Eakins has brought in as a part of his " bring in another Marlies player experiment"?

Just how many times do we have to try this......before someone figures out the Marlies are a AHL team.

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#45 RexHolez
July 03 2014, 03:13PM
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after only 2 years youre not sold on yak and willing to trade him for Berglund? dont worry, he'll change youre mind!

if Draisaitl comes in and looks better than Nuge. SEND HIM BACK TO JUNIORS!! no ones ever been hurt with more time to develop, and no rush burning a year of his elc already.

id hate to rush him then trade him for a Berglund in 2 years

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#46 Shaun
July 03 2014, 03:13PM
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Derek Laxdal was hired as the Texas Stars head coach

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#47 HallFever
July 03 2014, 03:15PM
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@DieHard

I know but something of value needs to go the other way. What do you suggest? Hopefully not Yak ha.

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#48 DieHard
July 03 2014, 03:16PM
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madjam wrote:

Not sure how one can assume Draisaitl gets in as a default position , when Arco and Landers are that to begin with .

Putting things straight : Yak played poorly generally on a bad team , and was an integral part of the problems from last year . I hope his play improves markedly from last season .

With more experience, better coaching and a better defence, he will.

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#49 Lowe Expectations
July 03 2014, 03:19PM
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Yakupov was a poor pick at #1. If he doesn't get his game turned around (and that is a definite possibility) I would expect him to got to the KHL once his entry level deal is finished. That means the Oilers get nothing for him & a #1 overall pick was completely wasted.

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#50 gk1980
July 03 2014, 03:20PM
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BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull wrote:

If MacT can't bring in a center he has failed as a GM. Ever since he was hired we've been constantly begging the Oilers to bring in a NHL centerman. The biggest need on the team for two years,two free agency periods and nothing to show. If RNH and Gordon get hurt we are playing meaningless hockey before christmas again.

Agreed, even if he signs a few plugs who have NHL experience and can at least defend the oppositions center I'm game. They wouldn't have to be superstars just add some veteran smarts and the ability to shutdown the oppositions centers. At least that's a start.

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